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Brewing Modern with Aether Revolt: Fuse Combo and Faeries

Last week I talked a bit about how I thought Fatal Push was going to revolutionize Modern. Today I’m going to cover some more decks that Fatal Push will boost, and highlight some other cards that could see play in the format. Keep in mind that there’s no way to know what the format is going to look like now that two important cards have been banned, so these are mainly just ideas to be developed, and not finished deck lists.

Expertise Cards

The Aether Revolt Expertise cards are great value plays in Standard, but in Modern they turn into combo pieces, letting you use spells that normally can’t be cast or that circumvent the casting cost restriction in other ways. The key interaction here is with the keyword fuse that lets you cast both sides of a card whenever those cards let you cast one. So, for example, if I use an expertise to cast Turn // Burn, I can actually cast both sides of Turn // Burn, even if together they would cost 5.

On top of Expertise cards, you can also use a relatively new card for the same purpose: Brain in a Jar. With just 2 counters, you can cast either of the 2 best fuse spells: Breaking // Entering and Beck // Call.

At first I was having trouble finding a way to turn Kari Zev’s Expertise on since it requires a creature and not every deck plays creatures early (and some can sacrifice whatever you target, like Affinity). Then I read an article by SaffronOlive that talked about using mana creatures to both speed the combo and turn it on, and that seemed like the perfect solution, so I tweaked my build and removed all my disruption for mana guys (and a Dryad Arbor). In the end, my build ended up very similar to his (though he is playing Through the Breach instead of Brain in a Jar—I think Jar is better, but Through the Breach could be good as well).

Fuse Combo

It’s possible to play this deck without green, which is what I originally had, but then Kari Zev’s Expertise becomes less reliable, as you need a creature in play to cast it. This deck has no disruption whatsoever, but it kills quickly and it’s hard to disrupt, as there’s no single type of hate that truly gets you (you’re even immune to graveyard hate since the whole spell happens at once and there’s no time to respond, unless it’s Leyline or Rest in Peace. If they have those, you can always target them and hope for something great). I’d rather start at “full combo power” and then try to add disruption slowly to see how much you can afford.

Right now, this deck has several ways of casting turn-3 (or even turn-2) Breaking // Entering, which has over a 75% chance of hitting something. Remember that unlike Goryo’s Vengeance, the creature stays in play forever, so if you hit Emrakul you just win, and if you hit Ulamog or Griselbrand they have to have Path, and in the case of Griselbrand you just do it again next turn. Here are some possible sequences:

T1: Birds of Paradise
T2: Kari Zev’s Expertise, cast fuse spell

T1: Fetchland, get Dryad Arbor
T2: SSG, Kari Zev’s Expertise, cast fuse spell

T1: Birds of Paradise
T2: Brain in a Jar, charge
T3: Charge, cast fuse spell

T2: Brain in the Jar, SSG, charge
T3: Charge, cast fuse spell

And of course you can always just wait a turn and do everything with Sram’s Expertise instead.

Now that you’re off the hook on having to play either white or red for cheap removal, you can play around with other colors a lot more. Last week I talked about a Jund Sultai build, and today we’re going to explore some different options.

U/B Faeries

Every time a new black or blue card is spoiled, someone comes up to me and asks “so, is Faeries back?” My answer is always “no,” because I think the biggest problem is that the payoff for being Faeries is not as good as the payoff for just being powerful. Spellstutter Sprite and Mistbind Clique, even when turned on, aren’t always as good as Snapcaster and Restoration Angel, which require way less setup.

That point still remains true, but there’s no denying that Fatal Push is a huge upgrade for any Faeries list. I’ve tried splashing for removal spells multiple times—Bolt in particular—but the mana was always too awkward, and now we have the perfect card, so if there is ever a moment to try Faeries again, it’s now. On top of that, Dredge was basically an unwinnable matchup, and now it’s greatly diminished in strength, if not flat-out gone.

This is what I’d try:

This deck also doesn’t have a ton of fetchlands to turn Fatal Push on, but I don’t think you need to turn it on to begin with and this deck also has a lot of chump-blockers, so if you must use it to kill something bigger, just block with a token or a Sprite and then cast it.

The 1 Pendelhaven might be very ambitious, but I think it’s a very good card if the mana can support it (especially against decks with Lingering Souls, which is an insane card against Faeries), and this deck can afford to run 16 dual lands, so the mana is going to be good no matter what. You can go with a Tectonic Edge or something if you really want to, but I like the Pendelhaven as my colorless land.

We don’t have to go that deep to find Fatal Push decks, though—established archetypes such as Grixis control will definitely run it as well. Make sure to check back later this week for potential upgrades to other Modern archetypes, as well as some entirely new brews—including a version of Storm that might survive the bans!

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